When is technology good for students? (and where?)

This report was copied to the Diane Ravitch blog. I copy out only part of it. The upshot seems to be that moderate, not high, use of technology aids learning and that teachers need extensive training in technology in order to use it properly. One thing I’ve always wondered about as I read posts to listservs of fl teachers is why there is so much wondering on the part of teachers, i.e. why has a professional body not vetted all these various programs, devices, media, etc. and then given them to teachers along with proper training.

No doubt people who’ve read my posts to various listservs over the years find me biased against technology; that’s always how it goes: if you ask questions and show skepticism, then you are biased and hostile. I recall vividly being “trained” at my school on power-point. After the training, I was wondering what I could use it for. When I checked out what other teachers were doing both in my school and district as well as what listserv members shared, I saw people not teaching but rather “delivering instruction”, an apt phrase for the hands-off use of technology, one more way to avoid engaging with students.

Are there teachers who make great use of technology? Yes, there are. But from what I’ve seen over the years, not only is there a lot of “delivery of instruction” but what is delivered is the same ol’ same ol’, which in our field means verb conjugations (anyone for noun declensions, just to break the monotony?)

Anyway, here are a couple of paragraphs from the report and below that the url for the blog post.

Pat Barrett

“The OECD couldn’t pinpoint why students who use technology more didn’t do as well on tests, but suggested a number of explanations: Reading online is a different skill than reading on paper; technology can be a distraction; and schools aren’t making the best use of technology.

“Teachers who use technology get better results — The OECD found that nations that emphasized training teachers to use technology performed better on tests. That meant allowing teachers to connect by video conferencing, observing other teachers, sharing lessons and ideas and just chatting with other teachers.

“Again, it was east Asian nations which encouraged teachers to connect via technology that also had the best-performing students on exams.


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